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The wine was invented by Harold Borgman, the owner of Pontchartrain Wine Cellars in Detroit, in 1937. The recipe was based on a German legend involving Clemens Wenzeslaus von Sachsen ordering the mixing of all the dregs of unfinished wine bottles with Champagne. The wine produced was given the name Kaltes Ende ("cold end" in German), until it was humorously altered to the similar sounding term Kalte Ente meaning "cold duck". The exact recipe now varies, but the original combined one part of Mosel wine, one part Rhine wine with one part of Champagne, seasoned with lemons and balm mint.
- During the early 1970s, the South Australian company Orlando Wines produced a sparkling red wine labelled 'Cold Duck'. Between 1971 and 1974, there were a number of trademark registrations, including Cold Turkey, Chicken, Gander, and Stork.
- Stellenbosch Farmers' Winery in South Africa now produce 'Fifth Avenue Cold Duck', also a sweet sparkling red.
Andrés Wines introduced their version of Cold Duck in Canada in the mid-1960s.They followed that with similar sweet red and white wines called Chanté. In 1971 they created Baby Duck – a soft-drink-sweet blend of red and white Chanté wines.
Hugely successful, Baby Duck was the best-selling domestic wine during the 1970s and it hatched numerous imitators: Canada Duck, Love-A-Duck, Kool Duck, Daddy Duck and Fuddle Duck were joined by Cold Turkey, etc… All of these wines driving the runaway expansion in the wine trade in the 1960s and 1970s were concocted from water, sugar and grapes that were judged unsuitable for making good quality dry table wines
- "You haven't lived here until ... You drink a cold duck". Detroit Free Press. 25 March 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-25.
- Kohnen, Alexander (23 July 2009). "Wine-press (5): Back to the punch!". Rhein-Zeitung Magazine (in German). Retrieved 2013-09-15.